- Grand Strand Weekend
- South Carolina for Kids
- South Carolina Bar-B-Que
- A Midlands Weekend
- Civil War Adventures
- South Carolina Waterways
- Three Days in Horse Country
- South Carolina for Seafoodies
- South Carolina Kitsch
- Gullah and African American History
- Upstate Weekend
- South Carolina’s Top Ten for Golfers
- South Carolina’s Offbeat Festivals
- Southern Comforts
- Lowcountry Romance
A 2008 U.S. Census estimate had South Carolina’s population at 4,479,800, 24th among U.S. states. Population statistics for individual cities are quite misleading because of South Carolina’s notoriously strict annexation laws, which make it nearly impossible for a city to annex growing suburbs.
For example, while the cities of Greenville and Spartanburg are listed at approximately 58,000 and 37,000 people respectively, this is grossly inaccurate in practice. The combined Greenville/Spartanburg area actually has well over a million residents. The city of Anderson technically has only about 26,000 residents, but Anderson County has over 200,000.
In rough order of rank, the largest official metropolitan areas in South Carolina are Columbia (720,000), Charleston/North Charleston/Summerville (630,000), Greenville/Mauldin/Easley (620,000), Myrtle Beach/North Myrtle Beach/Conway (240,000), Florence (200,000), and Hilton Head/Beaufort (165,000).
Its legacy as the center of the U.S. slave trade and plantation culture means that South Carolina continues to have a large African American population, nearly 30 percent of the total. The coast is higher, with Charleston being about 31 percent African American and Georgetown about 40 percent. Portions of the Midlands are heavily African American as well; Orangeburg, for example, is 60 percent black. The Upstate has the lowest proportion of African Americans. Seneca, for example, is only 8 percent black; Spartanburg and nearby Gaffney have the highest proportions, at about 20 percent.
One unfortunate legacy of South Carolina’s history is the residual existence, even to this day, of a certain amount of de facto segregation. Visitors are often shocked to see how some residential areas even today still break sharply on racial lines—as do schools, with most public schools in the area being majority black and most private schools overwhelmingly white.
However, despite persistent media portrayals, overt racism is extremely rare in the areas covered in this guide. In remote areas an interracial couple might get some disapproving looks, but in any urban area of real size, hardly anyone will bat an eye.
The Hispanic population, as elsewhere in the U.S., is growing rapidly, but statistics can be misleading. Though Hispanics are growing at a triple-digit clip in the region, they still remain under 3 percent of South Carolina’s total population. Bilingual signage is becoming more common but is still quite rare.
© Jim Morekis from Moon South Carolina, 4th Edition